A new UK urban cycle journey planner is being launched by Cycling England and Transport Direct.
Transport Direct’s transport portal is currently based around journeys by train, plane, car and bus. The initial launch of the cycle route planner, planned for late November or early December 2008, will feature two pilot areas, Greater Manchester and Merseyside and any potential glitches in the system will be ironed out before the launch of more areas in March 2009. There are also further urban areas in the pipeline over the next two years.
The planner is aimed at commuters, parents and students seeking safe urban personal journeys and Cycling England say it will help deliver personalised journey plans for every Bikeability trainee – Bikeability being the national cycle training scheme Cycling England also oversees.
“Reliable journey planning is made possible through accurate data depicting where it is good and safe to cycle,” Cycling England said. “For the initial areas the data has been surveyed by Cycle City Guides in partnership with the local authorities. This data is used to prime the route planner. Local Authorities can then update and manage their data through an online tool provided by Transport Direct, allowing the data to be responsive to real-world change and user feedback.”
BikeRadar spoke to Cycle City Guides boss Martin Whitfield, a man with unparalleled experience in the area of GPS based cycle map surveying.
“At any one time we had up to fifteen experienced cyclists working on the pilot areas, collecting information via GPS units loaded with specially produced software, which itself was a large investment,” said Whitfield. “The software was used to rate route options according to various criteria that are vital to cyclists when planning a journey – quietness, fastness, shortness, flatness and so on, on a sliding scale. The Transport Direct cycle journey planner will use the unique code of this data to come up with an individual cyclist’s best route, according to their stated needs.”
He also emphasised the long term aims of the project: “Although at the moment the cycling journey planner doesn’t allow for integration of bikes with other forms of transport it certainly holds that potential. Similarly, there is also the potential to download your planned journey as a GPX file onto a bike Sat Nav (or Sat Nav phone).”
Whiftfield added the company has also collected cycle data for Bristol, Derby, Exeter, Lancaster, Leicester, Worcester, Tyne & Wear and Bradford which will be available on the site in future.
For local authorities looking to have their area on the site more information about the DfT cycle data specification and format can be found at www.cyclenetxchange.org.uk. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this project.